A cosplayer is someone who wears clothing and accessories that represent a specific character in a fandom they enjoy. However, there is also a performance aspect to being a cosplayer; after all the word cosplay literally means “costume play”. So after dressing up as their favorite fictional character, a cosplayer will act similarly to that character in order to make it seem as if the character is real. Their performance brings that specific character to life.
Think of a cosplayer as someone who dresses up in a costume in a play; cosplayers wear the clothes and perform the specific part, but unlike actors they typically aren’t on stage performing for a massive audience. Another “real world” example would be characters at a theme park. These people not only wear a costume to look like a fictional character, but they act like that character and interact with other people as if they were that character. That’s the cosplay experience. It’s a fun world of make believe and unleashing your inner performative imagination.
Now, the duration of a cosplayer’s performance varies from person to person and really just depends on what they want to do. Some cosplayers will act like a character the entire time they are in costume, while others will just break out the performance when they are in front of a camera when people want to take pictures of them. But the performance can also be channeled more subtly – whether it’s increased confidence, being carefree, or feeling more powerful when wearing your cape, masks, or makeup. That’s all cosplay too. There are no solid rules other than dressing up and having fun.
So basically, a simple definition would be that a cosplayer is someone who participates in the performance art of cosplay.
How do you define being a cosplayer? Do you agree with how I defined it? Sound off in the comments below!